05 August 2014

Samoa

Previously I lauded Rarotonga as a great holiday destination, and I still do, but Samoa has a lot to recommend it as well -- not just for sailors but for anyone looking for a warm weather get-away.

The weather here at this time of year (southern hemisphere winter) is notably warmer than Rarotonga, and the water temperature is warmer as well.  This has made swimming and snorkelling much more attractive.  I must be really no longer used to the cold because now I'm comparing a place where the water temperature is 24 degrees with somewhere else where the water temperature is 28 degrees (I have a water temperature sensor on the hull of the boat so I know pretty much exactly what the water temperature is).  Compared to Lyttelton's 15 degrees, both are a paradise!

Having spent a few days in Apia, we decided to do a bit of a tour of both of the islands of Samoa, the main one Upolu (where Apia is located) as well as the larger but less populated island of Savai'i.

Upolu scenery is very pretty.  It has mountains and rivers and as a result lots of pretty waterfalls.
Unfortunately I died horribly after accidentally falling in to this one.  The remainder of this post has been dictated from the afterlife.
Yes, I'm still a smart-arse.

We stayed a night at a beach fale in a village called Salepaga on the south side of the island.  Nhi took my electric bike and I rented a touring bike for myself (which was much harder work than the electric!) and we cycled along the south coast for a bit.

We discovered this beach at Vavau, with a bit of effort.  There is a sign at the top of the turn-off saying "beach bungalows" with a couple of ladies on a fale there telling us that the beach bungalows were no longer there and it would cost us 5 tala per person to visit the beach.  So we paid our 5 tala and followed the road and didn't see anything spectacular.  After walking around for a bit we discovered another track, and following it we found this.
Which was where I proposed.  More on that later :)

We continued along the road and a short bike ride later we found the turn off to the To Sua trench.  It's a marvellous spot, it's a large sinkhole connected to the ocean by an underground opening, with a ladder and platform put down to enable swimming.
We stayed for a few hours and enjoyed the water as well as the garden scenery, and then had the taxi driver take us and the bikes back to Apia.

Later in the week we struck out from Apia (by taxi again) to the Robert Louis Stevenson museum.  RLS spent the last 5 years of his life at Vailima, overlooking Apia, and built a rather impressive house here.
The inside has been restored, including some of the Stevensons' original furniture and belongings, as well as some replicas of period pieces where they couldn't obtain the originals.
Although I did spot that they had included a Staunton chess set (dating from well after Stevenson's death) rather than the St George style which would have been more appropriate for the time!  I must mention this to them if I get back there.

After a few more days relaxing in Apia, we struck out again for the other island, Savai'i.  We had a tour there promptly and professionally arranged by the folks at the tourist information office on the Apia waterfront, basically it involved a taxi to the ferry terminal, a hire car on Savai'i, and one night's accommodation in beach fales on the far side of Savai'i.

Savai'i also has lots of pretty scenery.
It also has blowholes!
It's also the site of a recently active volcano, with lava flows still evident.
Also an odd little tidal race formed between the main island and one of the offshore volcanic offshoots.
Just driving around the island and watching the island life was interesting.  Samoa has a strong family-oriented culture and we could see a lot of family based agriculture while we were travelling around, often with an entire village getting together to dig rocks (volcanic soil is good for growing things but also contains many rocks), plant, harvest, build fences and walls, and even collect bags of rubbish to keep the streets clean.

Overall a really interesting place to get away from things.  Highly recommended.